Herpes Rhubarb

Note
Alternative treatments/therapies should not replace your healthcare provider-led therapy/treatments. Patients should consult their healthcare providers before taking any herbs or supplements because they may interact with treatment.

Unclear or conflicting scientific evidence

Rhubarb

Clinical study indicates that topically applied rhubarb-sage extract cream may reduce the symptoms of herpes. It was compared to acyclovir (Zovirax®) cream and was equally effective in relieving the symptoms. More high quality studies using rhubarb as a monotherapy are needed to discern rhubarb’s effect on herpes symptoms.

Avoid if allergic/hypersensitive to rhubarb, its constituents, or related plants from the Polygonaceae family. Avoid using rhubarb for more than two weeks because it may induce tolerance in the colon, melanosis coli, laxative dependence, pathological alterations to the colonic smooth muscles, and substantial loss of electrolytes.
Avoid with atony, colitis, Crohn’s disease, dehydration with electrolyte depletion, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, insufficient liver function, intestinal obstruction or ileus, irritable bowel syndrome, menstruation, pre-eclampsia, renal disorders, ulcerative colitis and urinary problems.

Avoid handling rhubarb leaves, as they may cause contact dermatitis. Avoid rhubarb in children under age 12 due to potential water depletion. Use cautiously with bleeding disorders, cardiac conditions, coagulation therapy, constipation, history of kidney stones, or thin or brittle bones. Use cautiously if taking anti-psychotic drugs or oral drugs, herbs or supplements (including calcium, iron, and zinc). Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.

Selected References
American Academy of Family Physicians. http://search.aafp.org. Accessed April 4, 2009.
American Social Health Association. www.ashastd.org. Accessed April 4, 2009.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. www.cdc.gov. Accessed April 4, 2009.
Femiano F, Gombos F, Scully C. Recurrent herpes labialis: a pilot study of the efficacy of zinc therapy. J Oral Pathol Med. 2005;34(7):423-5.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. www3.niaid.nih.gov. Accessed April 4, 2009.
Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. www.naturalstandard.com. Copyright © 2009. Accessed April 4, 2009.
Singh BB, Udani J, Vinjamury SP, et al. Safety and effectiveness of an L-lysine, zinc, and herbal-based product on the treatment of facial and circumoral herpes. Altern Med Rev. 2005;10(2):123-7.
Sun Y, Yang J. Experimental study of the effect of Astragalus membranaceus against herpes simplex virus type 1. Di Yi Jun Yi Da Xue Xue Bao. 2004;24(1):57-8.
Thomas SL, Wheeler JG, Hall AJ. Micronutrient intake and the risk of herpes zoster: a case-control study. Int J Epidemiol. 2006;35(2):307-14.
World Health Organization. www.who.int. Accessed April 4, 2009.
VZV Research Foundation. www.vzvfoundation.org. Accessed April 4, 2009.